Thursday, November 17, 2011

" better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone . . ."

My favorite quotations about the Occupy Wall Street movement are the ones that go something like this: "Of course I agree with the ideas of the Occupy movement, but I don't agree with the tactics." You hear it all the time, and the #OWS movement has succeeded every time that sentiment is voiced.
When the first few occupiers started in their occupation in the first city, New York, exactly two months ago on 9/17/2011, nobody in the media or government was primarily concerned with the growing American economic inequality. The only economic issue being discussed by "serious" commentators was the debt, and how much more pain was going to have to be doled out to those already suffering from the vagaries of a "free" market skewed to help those at the top (and by those at the top). The range of debate two months ago went all the way from the center right to the far right (and then farther right once the Tea Party got involved).
You won't see Andre Cuomo wearing
one of these anytime soon.
The Governor of my state, a man with national political ambitions, New York's Andrew Cuomo, has firmly planted himself in the center of that limited frame of reference. But he needs to be careful, because the Occupy movement has reopened the curtain on the left-hand side of the political stage, and a large portion of the electorate has finally seen a set of views and arguments that they can relate to and agree with. Cuomo is all for letting the Millionaire's Tax in New York expire at the end of the year and he's taking the corporate side in the contentious debate over hydrofracking for natural gas, but the center has moved. This is the wrong side of both issues within this state and within his party. In a raucous fall meeting of the Democratic State Committee, the party leaders wouldn't let either issue come up for a vote, knowing that our Governor had staked out the Republican positions for himself on both issues. “Go to hell!” yelled committeewoman Lori Gardner after the fracking resolution was tabled. “The party leaders pretty much protect the governor, they were appointed by the governor, and here, they pretended they won.”
To get back to my original point, you can't separate the ideas of the Occupy movement from the tactics. Without the tactics, the overreactions of law enforcement, and the constant presence in the streets of all fifty states over the past two months, those ideas never would have found their rightful place in the national dialogue. Andrew Cuomo is not the only politician who needs to recalibrate (or flip flop) in order to keep his national political ambitions alive. He needs to be listening to the Occupiers in Albany rather than trying to arrest them every night (even though Albany County District Attorney David Soares refuses to prosecute them).
Here's the song about clueless politicians I can't get out of my head tonight:

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

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